Drug Abuse in the Global Village
Drug Abuse in Africa


Extent of Drug Abuse

Cannabis is reported to be used in traditional treatment. "Iboga", a plant growing in the wild, which has stimulating and hallucinating effects, is used in traditional initiation ceremonies. Dependence among tens of thousands of abusers is reported to be due to psychotropic substances  such as Valium and Anafril. Amphetamines are available in the capital's street markets and are also sold along rural roads.  Availability and abuse of heroin are relatively recent and the abuse of cocaine is reported to be limited (Mounguengui 1990; Gabon 1992a).

Abuser Characteristics

Three types of drug abusers are reported: traditional abusers, males between 18 and 25 years of age in the capital and in Port Gentil and those who are uneducated, unemployed or delinquent adolescents who have emigrated to the capital (Mounguengui 1990).

                                                                       Regional Variations

No information was reported in Annual Reports Questionnaire by 31st December 1993.


Drug abuse is reported to be increasing, especially, among the youth (Mounguengui 1990).

Mode of Intake

According to 1992 data, cannabis is consumed mostly in herbal form, sold rolled up in a thick wrapping paper into a cigar or a cigarette, but also as a candy.  Alcohol is often taken in combination with cannabis and sometimes with psychotropic substances and "iboga" (Gabon 1992a).

            Intravenous drug use (IVU) is reported to be very limited (HONLEA 1993).


No information was reported in Annual Reports Questionnaire by 31st December, 1993.


National Strategy

The national strategy consists of demand reduction activities such as anti-drug campaigns and legislative measures (MOH 1992; Mounguengui 1990).

            A Commission for the Fight Against Drug Abuse was created in 1991 under the Ministry of Health.  It is responsible for epidemiological studies on drug abuse, training, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation activities.  It is also responsible for coordinating national and international activities related to drug abuse.  An Inter-Ministerial Committee Against Drug Abuse in coordination with UNDCP was also created in March 1992 (MOH 1992; Gabon 1992a).

            The Central Anti-Drug Office (l'OCLAD), which was created in 1990, has as its mission to control drug trafficking, but also to train enforcement staff in the Police, Gendarmerie and Customs (Gabon 1992a).

            The number of awareness workshops in the national and the sub-regional levels were increased and  a toxicology laboratory was created.  Another change in the legislative plan deals with control of supply. At the level of incrimination, a distinction between the offence of use and that of production and of drug trafficking was introduced.  The reform also aims to control money laundering.  The production and manufacturing of drugs became a crime to be punished by forced labor (Gabon 1992a).

            The first National Seminar on drug problems organized by the Ministry of National Defence took place in Libreville in June 1989 (CEEAC 1990).



                                                                         Treaty Adherence

Gabon is Party to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by the 1972 Protocol and to the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.


                                                       DEMAND REDUCTION ACTIVITIES

Primary Prevention

The media actively promote drug prevention programmes.  Interviews, entertainment and other drug related programmes are broadcasted on television and on radio.  The important role of the media in heightening public awareness was emphasized by the success of the national and international broadcasting of the Celebration of the UN International Anti-Drug Day, in Libreville, on the 26th of June, 1992 (Gabon 1992a).  The Ministry of Health has also launched an information campaign on drug abuse through television, radio and the press (Mounguengui 1990).

            Drug prevention have been held in schools since March 1990 (Gabon 1992b).  NGOs are involved in educational activities to promote health and prevent drug abuse.  Conferences for parents are organized by the Rotary Club in schools and colleges (Mounguengui 1990).

Treatment and Rehabilitation

Treatment services to drug abusers are available in the psychiatric unit of a provincial hospital near Libreville and at a private clinic.  Home based treatment is available, in cases where the family reputation would be damaged.  Demand for treatment usually comes from family members.  In many cases, traditional treatment is sought before turning to Western medical treatment (Mounguengui 1990).

            A centre for treatment and rehabilitation of drug abusers "Centre d'Accueil pour Soins et Reinsertion pour Toxicomanes" (C.E.R.T.A.) was established (Gabon 1992b).


                                                        SUPPLY REDUCTION ACTIVITIES

Arrests, Convictions and Types of Offenses

In 1991, a total of 142 persons (61 per cent males) were arrested due to drug related offenses (72 in 1990). Most arrests (90 per cent) were related to herbal cannabis.  Most of those arrested were foreigners (71 per cent), mainly Equatorial Guineans (MOD 1992).


In 1992, 80.990 kg of cannabis herb, 7 units of cannabis plants, 0.060 kg of cannabis seeds, 0.258 kg of cocaine (base and salts), 0.117 kg of heroin and 85 units of depressants were seized (Other 1992).

            In 1991, 198 kg of cannabis herb, 151 units of cannabis plants, 0.300 kg of cocaine, 0.455 kg of heroin, 600 units of depressants and 4,161 units of stimulants were seized (Other 1991).

                                                                    Supply Source of Drugs

Cannabis grows in the wild in Gabon.  It is also cultivated for traditional use, as well as for commercial purposes. In seven out of the nine provinces, there are large cannabis plantations. Cannabis trafficking also takes place, especially from Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and Nigeria.  Psychotropic substances, heroin and cocaine are smuggled by air or through the sea from Nigeria (HONLEA 1993; Gabon 1992a).  Heroin is reported to originate mainly from Pakistan (Mounguengui 1990). It has been reported also that heroin is imported via Nairobi, Lagos and sometimes Brazzaville, whereas cocaine is believed to be trafficked through Dakar or Abidjan, via Lagos, to Libreville, both by air and maritime routes (Gabon 1992a).

References and Notes

CEEAC 1990.  "Projet de creation d'un Centre de Soins et de reinsertion pour les toxicomanes au Gabon (CERTA)". Premier seminaire des Pays de la CEEAC sur la Drogue.  Libreville, Gabon 3-8 December 1990.

Gabon 1992a.  "Presentation de la Situation de la Drogue au Gabon".  Premiere Reunion du Comite Technique de Lutte Anti-Drogue.  24- 30 Novembre 1992.  Brazzaville (CONGO).

Gabon 1992b.  "Commission des Stupefiants, 35eme Session".  Vienne, 6-15 Avril 1992. 

HONLEA 1993.  "Report of Gabon to the Sixth Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA), Africa".  Abidjan, 24-28 May, 1993.

MOD 1992.  "Official transmission between the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Health".  Date unknown.

MOH 1992. "Communication from the Ministry of Health".  24 March, 1992.

Mounguengui 1990.  Dr. Mounguengui, Conseiller Technique du Ministre de la Sante. "Report to the conference on Drug abuse, Youth and the Society".  Libreville, 21 July 1990.

Other 1991, 1992.  Figures obtained from one or more seizure reports provided by Governments or from other official sources from the years 1991 and 1992.


** The Legal, Administrative and Other Action Taken to Implement the International Drug Control Treaties section was prepared by the Secretariat of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.  The most recent relevant part of the annual reports questionnaire was submitted for 1987.